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Monday, 20 December 1993
Page: 5341


Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Foreign Affairs) (11.14 p.m.) —Let me get clear what Senator Minchin is asking. The particular scenario he is painting is that native title equivalent holders who own pastoral leases may choose to sell their leases, for whatever reason, and Senator Minchin wants to know what the status of the native title claim would be thereafter. It would be an unlikely circumstance in which it would be sold; I think we have to make that the working assumption. It is not that there is a legal inhibition on them doing so. It is highly unlikely that people who have struggled through this process to get both the land and the recognition of title would give it away. But that may be so.

  Under those circumstances, the leasehold interest would be enjoyed on its own terms by the new lessee. Obviously the new lessee would not be acquiring anything in the nature of native title. If that person was not an Aboriginal entitled to make that claim, the native title equivalent would still continue to notionally exist and be capable of reapplication in the event that, at some future time, the pastoral lease was reacquired by the native title equivalent holders.

  In the meantime, their status as native title equivalent holders would not give them any particular right to any authority. They would be able to reacquire it, but also, I am reminded, when the lease actually expired they would, in those circumstances, be regarded as having the reversionary interest in the lease—rather than the crown taking the reversionary interest, as would be the usual case. That is the extra advantage—about the only extra advantage—that is conferred upon native title equivalent holders in this sort of situation.